RealTime IT News

India Allows ISPs to Use Foreign SATs -- With Hitch

The government of India has given private ISPs in the country somewhat limited freedom to use foreign satellites and Ku-band for international Internet connectivity.

ISPs will have to go through the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) for international connectivity through submarine cables, said PS Saran, telecom commission (services) member.

The opening up of Ku band and permission to use foreign satellites will pave way for ISPs to directly connect to the Internet via satellite through their own gateways and also provide services through very small aperture terminals (VSATs).

Till now, all private provides could only use the gateway's of VSNL and d department of telecom (DoT), for Internet connections. There are no norms for ISPs to set up their own gateways.

According to Saran, a committee including officials of the DoT and the department of space (DoS) will start scrutinizing applications for from private ISPs for international gateways within ten days time.

In another major decision, V-sat operators have also been allowed to use Ku-band. So far, C-band and extended C-band services were available to VSAT service providers having the Ku-band entirely in the DoT's domain.

"From January 2000 onwards, private ISPs will be able to use any media of their choice like VSATs, transponders on foreign satellites," Saran informed.

Saran said the decision was taken after the government recognized the massive requirement of bandwidth in India.

"We have adopted a more liberal approach on this account, which will lead to availability of additional transponders and reduce acute lack of transponder space," he added.

The opening up of the Ku band will help the industry install 100,000 VSATs next year compared with 10,000 VSATs in the country now, felt market observers.

A hitch can be seen here also - the government for the time being has not allowed international connectivity through VSATs. International connectivity through submarine cables will remain VSNL monopoly.

VSNL has an exclusive agreement with FLAG, an international submarine cable capacity provider, for providing capacity in India.

"If DoT permits private ISPs to use submarine cables, it would violate the agreement with FLAG," Saran said.